TikTok may be more famous for its viral dance trends, but an alleged constipation hack is getting plenty of attention, too.
Earlier this month, the TikTok account for Empirical Grace Acupuncture shared a video displaying a hand motion that promises to get things moving for those who are irregular. Simply make two fists and rub them together, thumb to thumb, for a “couple of minutes, a couple of times a day,” and you will have a bowel movement — so the video claims, anyway.
While some TikTok users who tried the trick swear it’s legit, Dr. Claudia Sanmiguel, a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Life it’s not that simple.
“There is an appeal in quick and fun maneuvers to relieve symptoms,” she explains. “However, there is not much knowledge or data that could support the efficacy of this maneuver in relieving constipation. It is possible but unlikely that rubbing your hands together in this way may produce a prolonged and reliable relief in patients with constipation.”
Heather Finley, a registered dietitian, adds, "This this technique might help relieve constipation because it could be stimulating acupressure points that stimulate the colon, but there is no research to back this up."
Finley stresses, "Using quick fixes might work temporarily, but the only way to find lasting relief is by addressing the root of the problem. For example, if you are weeding your garden and you are only pulling the weeds out by the stems and not the roots, they are going to grow back quickly. In a similar sense, we want to get to the roots contributing to constipation to find lasting relief."
According to Sanmiguel, certain lifestyle changes can lead to long-lasting constipation relief.
“Sedentary people have more trouble having their bowels empty,” she explains. “Remember, the longer that you sit down the higher the chances are to develop symptomatic hemorrhoids and constipation.”
Other tips include eating fiber rich foods to help get things going, as well as eating healthy fats and limiting dairy.
For those looking to make a quick change, it can be as simple as reviewing your body position when on the toilet: “Using a stool," Sanmiguel explains, "to place your knees higher than your hips and correct your spine position during defecation will facilitate stool evacuation and avoid straining.”